Tuesday, April 06, 2010

a sad loss

Recently our family was dealt a devastating loss. A few weeks ago Todd's father, Villamor, passed away. He had been dealing with numerous health problems during the past 6 months or so, but his passing was still quite a shock. It was a difficult time for all of us, especially Todd, but he immediately stepped up and helped his Mom with all of the arrangements. The biggest task was notifying all of the out of town family members. It was so comforting knowing that so many family members were able to drop everything and come into town.

This was the first big loss for our family since Olivia was born. We were immediately faced with the challenge of how to explain the loss of her G.P. (all of the grand kids called their grandfather, G.P., for grandpa). She saw him in the hospital before he passed away so she knew he was sick. We simply explained to her that because G.P. was sick and not able to get better he had to go live with God in Heaven. We explained that the doctors were not able to make him better so God took him to Heaven so he could be happy and healthy forever. She seemed to understand it as much as a three year old could possibly understand losing a loved one. She does seem to understand that he is no longer here, but we will see how she reacts in the upcoming months when we visit his parent's house. We have told her that anytime she wants to talk to her G.P. all she needs to do is look up to the sky to say hi or tell him that she misses him. I have already caught her talking to him a few times. It is very sweet and I know she will miss him very much.

The one bright spot during all of this sadness was the time we spent with distant family while they were in town for the funeral. Aunts, cousins, nephews, grandchildren...so many were able to be here to say good bye. It gave Todd a chance to catch up with some family members he had not seen in years and Olivia was able to meet some of her family for the very first time. It was so wonderful to see everyone, we just wish it could have been under better circumstances. With it being such a rare occasion for all of us to be together we had to take some family pictures.

Below we are standing with three of Todd's Aunts and two of his Cousins.
And of course we had to take a photo with all of the grandchildren. This is the first time they have all been together since Olivia and her cousin Ella were born. As you can tell it is impossible to get everyone to cooperate and look at the camera at the same time when you are dealing with such a wide range of ages!
This is a family photo of everyone that was in town for the funeral. It includes all of Villamor's children and their spouses, all of his grandchildren, three of his sisters and two of his nephews. Pretty impressive. He also has three brothers that were unable to attend.
Now that the chaos of the past week is over we now are dealing with the reality of no longer having Todd's Dad around. It will be strange not seeing him each time we go to his parent's house for a visit. Thankfully we have tons of wonderful memories that we will carry with us and be sure that Olivia always remembers. He was a kind and generous man and we will all miss him terribly.

As our emotionally draining week came to an end we prepared to celebrate Easter with Olivia. Olivia started talking about Easter egg hunts weeks before the holiday and she knew exactly what she wanted in her basket this year. During a recent trip to Meijer she spotted a Dora bath toy that she just had to have. We are not the type of parents to just buy her things because she says she wants them. We usually wait until there is a good reason to reward her with a toy. Easter was the perfect excuse to justify getting her the bath toy. Well Olivia's curiosity got the best of her and she spotted her Easter basket a day early. At that point we had no choice but to give it to her. There was no chance she was going to wait another day. Even though she blew the surprise she did still want to act surprised. She sat downstairs with her eyes covered and saying, "I'm ready for my Easter basket!". Little stinker.

She was of course thrilled with her Dora mermaid bath toy, as well as the 3D sidewalk chalk and the jelly beans. She is going through a Dora phase right now. Elmo is no longer the apple of her eye. He has been pushed aside for more "grown up" commercialized characters. No matter how much you try to shelter your child from all of the TV shows and the never ending line of commercial products that go with those shows, they always seem to become attached.

Our Easter was packed from morning till night. We started by sleeping in a bit...delightful. After getting dressed in our Sunday's best we headed for church. Most Sundays Olivia attends Sunday school. There is no Sunday school on Easter so Olivia sat with us during the service. Having her spend the hour with us made me realize how young she still is. She does not yet have the patience to sit quietly for that long. I am looking forward to sending her back to Sunday school next week!

After church we stopped at my Mom's so she could give Olivia her Easter basket. It was full of fun little Easter things as well as a cute little spring dress and some adorable Hello Kitty pajamas. She opened everything at lightening speed so she could get on with her first Easter egg hunt. She quickly found all of her eggs and opened them all to reveal money and candy. Nothing makes Olivia happier!

Our next stop was our annual Easter lunch at the Fortes, close family friends of ours. They have us over each year and they treat Olivia like one of their very own grand kids. They include her in their Easter egg hunt and they always give her wonderful Easter basket. This year only one of their grand kids was there so it was a much more low key Easter egg hunt. That did not matter to Olivia, she still had a great time finding her eggs. To make things even better the weather was fantastic that day. It turned out to be just a perfect day but we were all exhausted by the end of it. Not just from Easter but from the whole week.

Things are starting to get back to normal now. Olivia is on Spring Break this week so she is spending a little more time at Mama Kay's than she normally would. I am sure she is enjoying just playing and not having as many structured activities. We did have a few fun school activities prior to Spring Break. There was International Night, which Todd and I were not able to attend last year. We were out of town but Olivia took her Nana and we heard it was quite an event. Each year the school picks a handful of countries to feature and each classroom decorates and makes food for the country they chose. Olivia's classroom was South Africa. The kids do crafts and learn about the country prior to the event. It was a fun night and the food was fantastic!

The week leading up to Spring Break was spirit week. Monday was crazy hair day. It is not hard for Olivia to participate in this task. Last year we teased her hair and made it really wild but it ended up looking just like it does on any given day. This year I put it up in four pony tails. She was excited to show off her crazy hair 'do.

Tuesday was favorite team or school t-shirt day. Olivia showed off her school t-shirt and her colts jacket that day. Wednesday was rainbow day. Each class was asked to wear a different color. Olivia was thrilled to find out that her class had red...her absolute favorite color! And the day she was most looking forward to was Thursday...pajama day! It was the last day of school before the break and all of the kids could wear their jammies. They also had a spring party to kick off the season and the upcoming break from school. It was a fun week for her and one she looks forward to each year.

So as you can tell we have been pretty busy lately. With the nicer weather we have been spending quite a bit of time outdoors. Olivia has lots of big plans this season. There is a new addition to our backyard that Olivia is just dying to break in. You will have to wait to see what I am talking about. In the meantime I have lots of yard work that I need to tackle. It always seems a bit overwhelming at the start of the season. Oh well, it will get done. But with everything that we have been dealing with lately we are hoping that this spring/summer is, if nothing else...uneventful.


Anonymous said...

I know Olivia loved her G.P. very much and I know G.P. loved having his first granddaughter. I know she will miss him very much. I loved Oliva's Easter dress, she is just so beautiful as always, I am counting the days until I see her...Love Aunt Sue Sue

Anonymous said...

Olivia has handled all of this very well because of the way you presented G.P.'s death to her. She looks just too cute in her Easter dress.